ARLINGTON, Texas — Any number of thoughts could have entered Aaron Rodgers’ mind with 35 seconds left in Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys, and none of them would be considered tranquil.
So with most of the 93,396 at AT&T Stadium crazed that the home team had just tied the game at 31-31, the Green Bay Packers quarterback had one focus.
“I was thinking about on that last drive just thinking about my breathing and trying to steady that,” Rodgers said. “I felt good. I felt very calm, and I was very positive in the huddle and felt like we were going to go down and score.”
That calm during what may have seemed like a storm to most after the Cowboys came back from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit ultimately lifted the Packers to a 34-31 victory over the NFC’s No. 1 seed. It showed once again that Rodgers is better than most. With him at the helm, next Sunday’s NFC Championship Game at the Atlanta Falcons could be just another conquest on the way to another Super Bowl title.
Aaron Rodgers’ 36-yard pass set up Mason Crosby’s game-winning field goal. Dan Powers/The Post-Crescant
That calm also could explain how Rodgers didn’t buckle — or fumble — when safety Jeff Heath drilled him from behind on a blitz and sacked him for a 10-yard loss with 18 seconds to play. Or how two plays later, Rodgers rolled to his left and lofted the pass of the game that tight end Jared Cook collected as he dragged both feet in bounds for a 36-yard gain with 3 seconds left to set up Mason Crosby’s game-winning 51-yard field goal.
“[No.] 12 makes it easy,” said Cook, the eighth-year veteran who signed with the Packers last offseason. “He communicates with you, tells you how he wants certain routes, just describes to you how important it is to be on the same page with him. So he makes it easy for you by keeping up communicating constantly.”
In those final seconds, Rodgers’ instructions were simple yet clear.
“I was just speaking very positively about our opportunity, and reminded them that, with two timeouts, we don’t need to be in a hurry to get out of bounds,” Rodgers said. “Let’s get yards because yards are going to be more important with two timeouts.”
So where does Rodgers find the composure?
From practice. Where else? You fucking idiot!